Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad could lose seat to Greens, poll shows

Labor is confident preference flows will help Trad retain the seat but the Adani policies are affecting her

Queensland’s premier is convinced her deputy will emerge victorious in her battle against the Greens for her inner city seat, denying Labor’s shifting stance on Adani is to blame for the shift to the minor party.

A Galaxy poll, first published by News Corp, shows Trad – who holds the inner-city seat of South Brisbane on a margin of 14% – losing to the Greens candidate, Amy MacMahon, on a two-party preferred basis, 51% to 49%.

But Labor is confident preference flows will help Trad across the line. A popular local member, and high profile politician, Trad is viewed as suffering from her government’s changing policy regarding the Adani coal mine, which remains unpopular in southeast Queensland.

Speaking in Townsville on Monday, Palaszczuk said she had every confidence Trad would retain her seat.

“I know she is working incredibly hard and she will continue to work hard,” she said. “I have every faith that there will be no problem with her retaining the seat of South Brisbane ... I acknowledge that people have different views on this issue [Adani] and they have different views right across this state.”

It’s not the first time Trad has faced an uphill battle for South Brisbane. Her first election, in 2012 in a byelection sparked by former premier Anna Bligh’s resignation in a reversal of a promise to stay, saw Trad convince a sceptical electorate it could still trust Labor.

In a statement released after the poll, MacMahon said the battle was not over.

“We’ve been campaigning for over a year now, and over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing the same thing, knocking on doors talking to people who feel let down by a broken political system.”

The shock poll comes as Labor attempts to differentiate itself from the LNP through its energy policy, with battle lines being drawn between coal and renewables.

The planned Adani coalmine in the state’s Galilee Basin has been a major issue of contention within the Queensland cabinet with Trad, a member of the Labor left, losing the battle to stop it.

The decision of the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to veto any federal funds for the mine’s railway line delivered through the northern Australian infrastructure facility – after a conflict of interest was identified with her partner’s work on the loan application – was thought to have helped staunch the vote loss to the Greens.

The Greens have vowed to stop the Adani mine if they hold the balance of power in the state, and have already chalked up a gain, having won a council ward in an area with very similar boundaries to Trad’s electorate.

But despite many in cabinet believing Adani will fail to raise the funding to open its mine, Labor continues to support it while pushing ahead with its target of 50% renewables by 2030.

As part of that strategy, Queensland Labor remains sceptical of the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee proposal, with renewables, predominantly solar, continuing to shape its energy plan.

The LNP has vowed to facilitate plans to build a coal-fired power station in north Queensland if elected, maintaining the same line as the federal Coalition: coal is good.

Labor, on the other hand, has forged ahead with its plan to make the “sunshine state the solar state”, which includes introducing solar thermal projects to the mix, as well as promising $50m in new funds to begin attracting projects to Queensland.

Plans to establish a solar battery factory in Queensland are also under way.

“Let’s be very clear, a coal-fired power station has not been built in Australia in the last decade,” Palaszczuk said from a north Queensland solar farm just outside Townsville on Sunday.

“There is no appetite to build a new coal-fired power station in Queensland. And you only have to talk to the energy commentators that say, if there was any hope of building a new coal-fired power station, it should be in Victoria, not in Queensland.

“Because we have the healthy energy mix. We’ve got the coal, we’ve got the gas, and now we have a huge boom in renewable energy ... We need to have a healthy mix; the world is moving towards this. It is not rocket science, it is not new, but it is happening.”

However, attempts to put a full stop on the Adani mine through the loan veto have failed, with the shadow of Adani following Palaszczuk, and by extension Trad, throughout the election campaign.

On Sunday, Palaszczuk’s frustration was clear, as she said her decision was not standing in the way of any jobs, putting the ball back in Adani’s court to start the project.

“I sat at a signing ceremony in Townsville where they said they had the green light to go ahead,” she said. “Now they just have to get on with it.”

As for whether she had spoken to Adani to explain her decision, Palaszczuk said she had not called them.

“My office has already spoken to them,” she said. “They spoke with them on that day. They speak with companies all the time.”


Amy Remeikis

The GuardianTramp

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